5 Tips to Create a Compelling Community Experience

Posted on 02 August 2010

I use the word “compelling” quite a bit so I figured I would take some time to explain what I my definition of a compelling online experience is.

People revisit websites for many reasons, all of which I don’t pretend to know.  I can only speak of my experience with the websites I’ve had the pleasure of managing.

What do I mean when I use the word “compelling”?  I mean the user should be inspired to create, share, view, rate, and save their experience on your website.

To have a truly compelling experience these 5 things help:

1)  Provide some sort of ego feed to the user. You’ve got to provide some way for people to share themselves or something they’ve created.  Sharing is the basis for being social, whether it’s sharing your time, your creations, or your opinion.  It empowers the member to share and gives them a foothold in the community when they leave something personal, like a creation, on your site.

2)  Provide an opportunity for members and their shared content to be judged by the community. Whether it’s a “like” button, a rating system, a thumbs up or just an opportunity to critique in depth, people want to be rated and in turn, to rate others.  Of course, praise and admiration are motivators but that also rings true for negative commentary.  To judge and be judged, regardless of depth of the rating mechanism, is essential.

3)  Provide access to Social Media and the web through your community. EVERYTHING that a user creates on your site should have the ability to be shared through multiple mediums.  FacebookTwitterWeb, it doesn’t matter as long as people can show the rest of the world what they’ve created.  Allowing for social media interaction will not only put your brand out in the marketplace, but it will also be owned, in that space, by the member.  Ownership strengthens that bond between community and member.  Often times you’ll find that your community has brought your brand into the social media arena and you didn’t even realize it.  Search Facebook, Twitter lists and hashtags for your brand.  You should ALWAYS be Googling your brand!

4)  Enable diversity through functionality. The more variety you allow in the “creative process” the more diverse a crowd you’ll attract.  For instance on Tabblo.com you can make an online Tabblo, you can print photos, posters and books at home, you can belong to specific groups, you can print out photocubes to construct offline, you can invite friends and family, you can create event Tabblos that multiple people can submit photos to, there are a wide variety of things to do on Tabblo that draw in a diverse set of folks that enrich the community.  However, you can certainly go overboard with too many outlets if you’re not focused on the core user experience.

5)  Present the user with a simple interface that reflects current web standards. Consistency with web standards will enable people to use your site without stumbling through the experience.  If you confuse your members they are less likely to become compelled users.  Remember, consistency with the current web environment doesn’t mean you’ve got to be boring, push the envelope with design, but don’t over-complicate the process or you’ll alienate the end user.

I’m not touting these ideas as original or absolutely necessary for a community to thrive.  These are just things that I’ve learned over the years and have worked for me.  Of course, there are more tidbits to engaging members and you’ll discover them the more active you are in your online community!

Was your community designed with any of these tips in mind?

Does your community inspire or compel creativity and sharing?

Is your company engaging in social media?

Is your community connected through social media outside of your efforts?

I’m VERY curious, so please don’t hesitate to leave comments.!

Cheers!

-Eric


1 Response to 5 Tips to Create a Compelling Community Experience

  • […] They welcome the creation of product oriented content AND provide a means to share it via social media.  Haven’t we heard this somewhere before? […]

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